DIY Diaries: How to Hang Art All By Yourself
Here, then, is how it goes in our house. There is a photo, a shelf, a hook to be hung. Sometimes out of necessity, mostly not. And because Ken is the official Hangman in the home (he, being the only one with both the patience and precision to master the job), I make the request. Sure, he’ll say, always up for a productivity high. Just put it on the kitchen counter to remind me. This is the beginning of the waltz.
Just put it on the kitchen counter is often code for I’ll get to it within a few days. A few days then bleeds into one week’s time, then two. For weeks, I spend many moments moving the object – the hook, the frame – to slightly less obtrusive spots around the kitchen. I shift it to clean toast crumbs underneath, moving said object from just beyond the reach of a child’s syrupy hands, a baby’s jolting grip.
I relocate it to a spot by the table salt, then over by the fruit stand. Finally, next to the dish rack. It’s a battle of the wills: Do I want the thing hung? Or do I want my dish rack real estate back?
Eventually, the object is moved to the office desk in one final act of surrender – my own code for We’ll try again in three months, or longer.
You can’t fault the man. He’s the busiest of us all. Once, to prevent the waltz entirely, I asked a girlfriend to hang a shelf in our bathroom while Ken was out of town. Just a small one, for the toothpaste, maybe a succulent.
She did, because girlfriends always do, and now – each time Ken stands to pee – he stares directly into the horizontal plane of a plant shelf that sags 1/8″ too low on the right. This week, I could hear the waltz music before it began. I’d ordered a family photo to cover up a tangled set of wires in the basement wall – wires that were an eyesore only to me – during a particularly busy season for our home’s official Hangman. (It is not lost on me that this is my preferred course of action when it comes to decorating. If it’s broken, why fix when you can cover?)
The photo-hanging wasn’t a priority, of course, in the grand scheme of things. When there are mouths to feed, relationships to nourish, strollers to stroll, emails to answer – where does a wall-full of wires fall on the spectrum? But I know myself well. Every time I walk by that makeshift technological labyrinth, I let it make off with a bit of my peace. And so: today, I’d be the Hangman.
Armed with these wall hangers, I unwrap the photo and tiptoe downstairs during Scout’s nap. The directions promise to be headache-free, boasting three simple steps: place, push, hang. No hammer, no nails, no built-in levels (to say nothing of the cumbersome drywall screws). Surely even I could manage? Surely indeed, and five minutes later, even Ken is impressed.*
There are things in life worth fighting for: justice comes to mind. Sacrifice, too. Character and endurance to name a few more, plus a rousing game of shuffleboard, and on certain hot July days, I’m absolutely willing to go toe-to-toe for the last cold pickle from the cucumber garden. But photo hanging, or lack thereof, needn’t live on this list. And now that I’m the Hangman, it doesn’t have to.